Since the FDA’s approval of the first biosimilar — Zarxio (filgrastim-sndz) from Sandoz, a division of Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp. — on March 6, 2015, the agency has approved almost 40 more agents via the 351(k) pathway established under the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act (BPCIA), itself part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Although not all of those agents have launched yet, and almost all of the ones that have are all professionally administered, industry experts say they expect to see more competition in the space, depending on interchangeability status, provider uptake and the impact of the Inflation Reduction Act.
The FDA recently approved the first novel long-acting granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) in more than 20 years. Payers say they are likely to manage the new agent similar to existing ones, but oncologists have indicated that they are willing to prescribe it in place of other neutropenia agents, according to Zitter Insights.
On Sept. 9, the FDA approved Spectrum Pharmaceuticals, Inc.’s Rolvedon (eflapegrastim-xnst) to decrease the incidence of infection, as manifested by febrile neutropenia, in adults with nonmyeloid malignancies receiving myelosuppressive anti-cancer drugs associated with clinically significant incidence of febrile neutropenia. The company developed the drug with South Korea’s Hanmi Pharmaceutical Co. The recommended dose is 13.2 mg administered subcutaneously once per chemotherapy cycle. The company says it expects the product to be available in fourth-quarter 2022. It has not revealed the agent’s price yet.
Sept. 9: The FDA approved Bristol Myers Squibb’s Sotyktu (deucravacitinib) for the treatment of adults with moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis who are candidates for systemic therapy or phototherapy. The agent is a first-in-class, oral, selective, allosteric tyrosine kinase 2 (TYK2) inhibitor. The recommended dosage of the tablet is 6 mg once daily. The list price for a 30-day supply is $6,164.
Sept. 9: The FDA approved Spectrum Pharmaceuticals, Inc.’s Rolvedon (eflapegrastim-xnst) to decrease the incidence of infection, as manifested by febrile neutropenia, in adults with nonmyeloid malignancies receiving myelosuppressive anti-cancer drugs associated with clinically significant incidence of febrile neutropenia. The manufacturer says it is the first novel long-acting granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) approved in more than 20 years. The recommended dose is 13.2 mg administered subcutaneously once per chemotherapy cycle. The company says it expects the product to be available in fourth-quarter 2022.
Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd. launched six strengths of lenalidomide, and two of them — 2.5 mg and 20 mg — are eligible for first-to-market 180-day exclusivity, the company said Sept. 7. The FDA approved those two strengths and gave tentative approval to the others on Oct. 14, 2021. Teva Pharmaceuticals Ltd. launched the first generics of the other four strengths of the generic of Bristol Myers Squibb’s Revlimid — 5 mg, 10 mg, 15 mg and 25 mg — on March 7. Lenalidomide is approved for six indications for the treatment of adults with (1) multiple myeloma in combination with dexamethasone; (2) MM as maintenance treatment following autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation; (3) transfusion-dependent anemia due to low- or intermediate-1-risk myelodysplastic syndromes associated with a deletion 5q abnormality with or without additional cytogenic abnormalities; (4) mantle cell lymphoma that has relapsed or progressed after at least two treatments, including bortezomib; (5) previously treated follicular lymphoma in combination with a rituximab product; and (6) previously treated marginal zone lymphoma in combination with a rituximab product. On Sept. 17, 2020, Dr. Reddy’s said that it had settled patent litigation with Bristol Myers subsidiary Celgene Corp. that would allow it to sell volume-limited amounts of the generic as of a confidential date after March 2022. As of Jan. 31, 2026, Dr. Reddy’s can sell lenalidomide without limitation.
As FDA approval of biosimilars continues and agents are expanding into new indications, more payers are using these drugs and seeing cost savings through that utilization, according to Zitter Insights.
When the FDA approved Fresenius Kabi’s Stimufend (pegfilgrastim-fpgk) on Sept. 1, it was the sixth biosimilar of Amgen Inc.’s Neulasta (pegfilgrastim) that the agency had approved. It also was the 38th biosimilar approved since the first one, Novartis Pharmaceutical Corp. division Sandoz’s Zarxio (filgrastim-sndz), was approved March 6, 2015, referencing Amgen’s Neupogen (filgrastim).
Aug. 10: The FDA converted the accelerated approval for Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp.’s Tabrecta (capmatinib) to full approval for the treatment of adults with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) whose tumors have a mutation that leads to mesenchymal-epithelial transition (MET) exon 14 skipping as detected by an FDA-approved test. The agency granted that accelerated approval on May 6, 2020. Dosing of the tablet is 400 mg twice daily. GoodRx lists the price of 112 200 mg tablets as more than $19,667.
Aug. 11: The FDA gave accelerated approval to AstraZeneca and Daiichi Sankyo, Inc.’s Enhertu (fam-trastuzumab deruxtecan-nxki) for adults with unresectable or metastatic NSCLC whose tumors have activating HER2 (ERBB2) mutations as detected by an FDA-approved test (see below briefs) and who have received a prior systemic therapy. This is the first drug that the agency has approved for HER2-mutant NSCLC. The FDA first approved the antibody drug conjugate on Dec. 20, 2019. The drug received priority review and breakthrough therapy designation. Dosing for the newest use is 5.4 mg/kg via intravenous infusion once every three weeks.
News Briefs: Cancer Replaced Musculoskeletal Conditions as Biggest Driver of Large Companies’ Health Care Costs
Cancer replaced musculoskeletal conditions as the biggest driver of large companies’ health care costs, according to the Business Group on Health’s 2023 Large Employers’ Health Care Strategy and Plan Design Survey. The survey found that “13% of employers said they have seen more late-stage cancers and another 44% anticipate seeing such an increase in the future, likely due to pandemic-related delays in care.” Between May 31, 2022, and July 13, 2022, the organization polled 135 large employers in various sectors that cover more than 18 million people in the U.S. The survey also found that 99% of respondents said that they are concerned about prescription drug trend. Last year, prescription drugs were responsible for a median of 21% of the companies’ health care costs, and specialty drugs accounted for more than half of pharmacy spend.
Specialty drug trend in 2021 largely recovered from the hit it took from the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, driven mainly by an increase in utilization. That’s according to the 2022 Artemetrx State of Specialty Spend and Trend Report from Pharmaceutical Strategies Group (PSG), an EPIC company.
Published in August, the report is sponsored by specialty pharmacy Reliance Rx. Findings are based on an Artemetrx analysis of 73.9 million medical claims and 55.1 million pharmacy claims from PSG’s book of business. It is the sixth annual version of the report.
Multiple trends are occurring within the specialty pharmacy industry that could have a huge impact on the space, maintained longtime industry expert Adam J. Fein, Ph.D., CEO of Drug Channels Institute, during a recent webinar. Those include greater competition among specialty products, a slowing of payer spending on specialty drugs and more vertical integration among both payers and providers. “We’re at kind of an inflection point in the specialty market,” he contended during the July 29 webinar, titled Specialty Drugs Update: Trends, Controversies, and Outlook.
July 14: The FDA expanded the patient population of Biocodex, Inc.’s Diacomit (stiripentol) for the treatment of seizures associated with Dravet syndrome in people between the ages of 6 months to 2 years and weighing at least 7 kg who are taking clobazam. The agency first approved the treatment on Aug. 20, 2018. The drug is available as a capsule and an oral suspension. Dosing is 50 mg/kg/day for both routes of administration. Drugs.com lists the price of 60 250 mg capsules and 60 250 mg powder for reconstitution as more than $1,589.
July 14: The FDA expanded the label of Pfizer Inc.’s Xalkori (crizotinib) to include the treatment of people at least 1 year old with unresectable, recurrent or refractory inflammatory anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK)-positive myofibroblastic tumors. The agency initially approved the kinase inhibitor on Aug. 26, 2011. The FDA gave the agent orphan drug designation and granted the application priority review; that review used the Assessment Aid, a voluntary submission from the applicant to assist the FDA in its analysis. Dosing for the newest indication of the capsule in adults is 250 mg twice daily. The recommended pediatric dosage is 280 mg.m2 twice daily based on body surface area. Drugs.com lists the price of 60 250 mg capsules as more than $20,657.